Senate approves payroll tax cut, jobless benefits

December 23, 2011 - 9:38 AM
Congress Payroll Tax

Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio pauses at a news conference to announce an agreement for a 2-month extension to the payroll tax cut on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has approved a two-month renewal of payroll tax cuts for every worker and unemployment benefits for millions, moving President Barack Obama closer to a convincing victory over Republicans who control the House.

The measure buys time for negotiations early next year on how to pay for a year-long extension of the two percentage point payroll tax cut, the centerpiece of Obama's fall jobs agenda. It would boost the paycheck of the average worker making a $50,000 salary by about $20 a week.

The House is expected to clear the measure shortly, capping a swift retreat by House Republicans. Their move to force a holiday season confrontation with Obama and Senate Democrats had threatened to hit 160 million workers with a tax increase on Jan. 1, and it backfired badly.